In July, Netflix reported its worst slowdown in subscriber growth in eight years. So it’s adding a new attraction: video games that the company will produce itself.
The video streaming giant didn’t say yet when that service will launch. But the plan so far seems to be that the video games will be included in subscriptions at no extra cost. Netflix executive Greg Peters says the company will initially focus on making mobile games. It will eventually expand with programs for gaming consoles and TV sets as well. The first ventures into gaming will tie in with Netflix’s most popular programming. But stand-alone titles may later be added to the mix too.
Netflix gained only 5.5 million subscribers in the first six months of 2021. That’s a dramatic reversal from last year. Netflix picked up 26 million subscribers during the first half of 2020. That’s when lockdowns across the world had sent people into binge-watching frenzies.
The media provider blames part of this year’s slowdown on pandemic-related production delays. That left the company with fewer proven hits to add to its offerings.
People are increasingly turning to streaming services for entertainment, rather than movie theaters or traditional TV broadcasting. The stay-at-home response to the coronavirus pandemic helped push that trend. According to Statista, a June 2020 study showed that just 14% of adults said that they strongly preferred seeing a movie for the first time in a theater. A noteworthy 36% said that they would much rather stream the film at home.
Consumers now have many options to choose from. Netflix remains the world’s biggest streaming service. It ended June with 209 million worldwide subscribers. But the competition includes Disney, HBO, Amazon, Apple, and more with their own streaming apps and websites.
Those services fight for subscribers. Wired writer Angela Watercutter says, “The problem with all this growth is that eventually streaming services will just run out of households to sign up.”
If the move into video gaming pays off, it could eventually give Netflix a reason to boost prices. It could also help Netflix capture and hold onto more subscriptions.
“The reason we’re doing [video games] is to help the subscription service grow and be more important in people’s lives,” Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings says. That’s a good reminder for Christians to evaluate what really is important. Movies and video games can be fun. And with streaming services providing the power to watch any video at any time, it’s easy to fall into the habit of binge-watching shows. But serving God and others, doing one’s best at school, and participating in work are just some of the activities that could have a much higher value than a flood of entertainment.
Remember, each person has a limited number of hours on this Earth. We are here to know and enjoy God first of all, and to glorify Him forever.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. — Ephesians 5:15-16